On 3 December 1867 John Davis was sentenced at the Warwickshire Assizes to 18 months’ hard labour for ‘wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm’ (HO 27/148). His victim was Jane Ward. But what provoked this violent outburst? Apparently headless ghosts had entered his home through the chimney and tormented his family – but what has all of this got to do with Jane Ward?
She was a witch! Or more accurately she was branded a witch by her neighbour John and his family. Various newspaper articles found in the British Library Newspaper Archives give detailed accounts of his claims. He claimed she sent two headless ghosts in the dead of night down his chimney – not just any ghosts mind, one of them was the Patron Saint of Paris, Saint Genevieve. He was said to be carrying his head under his arm like a gentleman would carry a cane.
John Davis claimed they were not particularly pleasant ghosts. They weren’t like Casper the friendly ghost (they were more like his mischievous uncles) – they rearranged the family’s furniture and pinched members of the family. They also turned their attentions to Mr Davis’s disabled daughter, who was thrown off the sofa and then they tossed her around the room, before turning their attentions to the sofa which then suffered the same fate. Continue reading »